My vivid memory about the call from Washington that contained a job offer I didn’t expect was the feel of the hardwood floors under my feet in that Chicago apartment. I spent the winter after graduation working my ass off, interning and writing all I could and also folding jeans, hoping something would give.
And then all of the sudden there was the feel of the floor under my bare feet. I was jumping up and down.
I worked really hard to get a job here, but it wasn’t anything compared to what was waiting for me. This was the quickest, craziest, most rewarding year of my life, and here’s why: The Post is not a place that opens for you and gives you time to find your way. You have about 20 minutes to find a few friendly faces and pick your spots before you’re swallowed up into the din of the daily flow. Find a mentor, find a friend, find someone who might someday vouch for you. That is how this place works. It took me forever to find my mailbox, set up my voicemail, order business cards, but it took me even longer to win over the trust of people whose good graces are essential to doing a good job. And there will never be an end to navigating office politics, of watching what you’re saying and to whom, of trying to reason with those more territorial.
It can be really exhausting. Every single second of it, for better or worse, is quintessentially D.C.
I can say with certainty only strong people thrive here, and for awhile I wasn’t sure I was one of them. This isn’t a self-congratulatory post, but one meant to reflect on a year that felt hard-won for me more than anything else.
I do social media, but all of us should. All journalists should really be driven by a community of some sort, and that sphere happens to be mine. To that end, working here changed how I view journalism. I think it’s more important than ever for journalists to work together for a common goal. I think keeping a ‘web and print’ mentality, or even a ‘my part of the web, your part of the web’ mindset is counterproductive. I think stories should be social from beginning to end. And I think young journalists have so much to learn from people who’ve been in the field for awhile — as long as those people are willing to feel that same way about us.
And, let’s be clear, this is just the very basic gist of it. I could give you links and a social media manifesto and mention some studies, but I don’t feel the need for clutter so late in the day. This is already too much wordage.
Anyway, one year in, I feel really good, and I feel more capable than ever. It helps to have someone who pushes me to be better at what I do. It helps to have someone whose work I admire, whose advice I take to heart. It helps to have someone with charisma, smarts and a sense of ownership about what we do to motivate me. It helps to have somewhat of a fearless leader to back it all up. It helps to work with some of the smartest people I could imagine knowing, people with no ‘off’ switch whose company I feel lucky to keep.
And, most of all, it helps to know I’m still myself after a year in this ridiculous town.
So, here’s to 365 days in. Hell yes. Let’s see how this next year goes.